Last January I hopped on my first long haul flight…solo. I mean it’s one thing to fly with someone, but to do it alone can potentially be even more intimidating. So with that in mind I wanted to share ten thoughts I had whilst flying long haul, some a little more lighthearted than others.
1. “What am I going to do for the next 8+ hours?”
My flights were split: Heathrow – Dubai / Dubai – Brunei / Brunei – Melbourne and my stopover times in each airport were only up to a couple hours. But given that the longest flight I’d been on before this was possibly 2 and a half hours maximum, I wasn’t sure how I’d feel. Certainly in the lead up to getting on the plane, and doing laps of the departure lounge, I realised that it’d been over a year since my last flight and started to feel the nerves kicking in. Boarding the plane however, I’d settled down and after that initial thought of “what am I going to do to occupy myself on this 6.5 hour flight to Dubai” I spotted a few films to watch on board, food was served pretty quickly and I realised I actually like flying. Bonus.
2. “Do I look a bit weird/creepy/pervy for watching this film/tv show?”
Yes this crossed my mind when I was watching Home Again (Reese Witherspoon rom com with a few raunchy scenes) and Get Out (mostly for the violence factor on that one) however that was an overnight flight and I think on my return home so by then I’d realised no one cares. So yeah whilst it can be a bit awkward to be watching a film on a plane and a sex scene just pops up, no one really looks at what anyone else is doing. I opt for window seats, because I like to gaze down and see where I’m flying over when the cloud coverage allows it or it’s daytime. So yeah, the sooner you stop caring on a plane, the better – well within reason of course.
3. Waking up and thinking the plane is going down
I mean I can laugh about this instance now, but at the time I didn’t know what was happening. It was during my second flight, I was starting to feel sleepy, so I thought I’d have a quick nap. Sure enough, we hit some turbulence and the plane did what felt like a massive jump in the air. I woke up startled and almost grabbed the girl who was next to me. I mean I’m not one to typically hold hands with strangers, but half asleep these things happen. She was awake watching tv and just told me it was okay, I was okay and I think I then fell asleep again. Turbulence worries are real though, so keep your seatbelt on!
4. “I wonder where we’re flying over now…”
This one’s a good one, as unlike the short haul flights I’ve been on in the past, unless the first office or pilot tell you the route or you know the route yourself, it’s hard to tell where you’re flying over. I liked seeing where I was in the sky in relation to the countries below. I’d been pre-warned that the gulf of India can be a bit bumpy for turbulence (thanks to my aunt who knows almost everything about planes) but aside from that, every mile we flew was entirely new for me. I’d never seen further afield than Spain, so to fly over Dubai – even at night, was just amazing.
5. That feeling of being so insignificant and how big the Earth is
I find this quite a humbling feeling really and it ties into the above, but when you’re flying over places and you can see bright city lights in the night or the landscape during the day time, it really does make me stop and think about how big the Earth is. Then just how accessible places are. You can get on a flight and be in a different country in a matter of hours (or perhaps the next day/or two depending on what time you set off and if, like me, you were flying over to Australia)
6. How amazing is flying?
Let me tell you a story. It was around 6am and I was groggy from travelling more than 24 hours, on the last leg of my journey to Melbourne and we started to circle round towards coming into land. I looked out the window (having a window seat is always a favourite of mine) and the sky was a mix of orange, pink and yellow; possibly one of the most stunning sunrises I’ve ever seen – definitely the most stunning sunrise I’ve witness on a flight (it’s the main photo on this post!). I can’t really describe the feeling looking down and seeing the city below me, just thinking, “I’m actually here, this is Australia”. Whilst you weren’t there, perhaps you’ve had a similar experience with a sunrise/sunset, or been overwhelmed when you’re finally approaching your destination, should it be one you’ve been wanting to visit for a long time.
7. Needing to use the bathroom but the passenger next to you is asleep
Yep. We’ve all been there when you opt for the window seat and the passenger next to you falls asleep almost immediately when the plane starts to take off. It’s always an awkward “excuse me” moment, but if you’ve got to go, you’ve got to wake them up. Or you could opt for the aisle seat so you don’t have that issue; however you’ll potentially be the one I’m waking up if we’re on the same flight!
8. Where’s the flight attendant gone, I fancy a drink
I flew long haul with an airline that didn’t serve alcohol and honestly, this was absolutely fine for me. Travelling solo, I didn’t want to arrive to a new destination and be disorientated due to several gins, but you can take this one to even mean tea/coffee/water. It always seems to be the point where the flight attendants have disappeared when I realise I could do with a drink. Guess that’s what that handy call button is for. Followed by me apologising for bothering them and asking for some water.
9. Have I packed X?
On any journey, this thought is likely to cross your mind. Did you pack your toothbrush for that weekend away, that outfit for the evening meal at that fancy restaurant, the list goes on. Thing is, once you’re at 35,000+ feet, there’s nothing you can do about it until you reach your final destination. And then you hope your luggage shows up on the carousel. Toothbrushes and other small items can easily be bought and if you have forgotten a smart outfit, or haven’t packed enough swimwear then it’s the perfect excuse to go shopping!
10. This isn’t so bad!
Let’s face it, flying is the safest form of travel. It allows you to reach destinations that would take weeks or even several months via other modes of transport. If you’re someone who can settle quite easily and get a few naps in, then it really isn’t so bad. If anything I like flying for a chance to switch off and take a little break from social media. It’s a chance to get lost in a new TV series, catch up on some movies you missed at the cinema, or if you’re a content creator it’s an opportunity to get ahead with some editing and planning if you’ve taken your laptop with you.
What crosses your mind when you’re flying long-haul?